Samuel Gelston’s Whiskey Irish Cup First-Round 

Cliftonville 5–0 Islandmagee 

CLIFTONVILLE progressed to the last 16 of the Samuel Gelston’s Whiskey Irish Cup with a comfortable 5-0 win over Islandmagee at Solitude on Saturday afternoon. 

A hat-trick from Joe Gormley set the tone and the had the hosts well on their way to the next round. Luke Turner added a fourth early in the second period and Aaron Donnelly curled home the fifth late-on to ensure it was a comfortable afternoon for the Solitude side. 

Reds’ boss Paddy McLaughlin believes that Gormley’s hat-trick was the difference in a frustrating half and credited Islandmagee for making things difficult for his side. 

“It was a brilliant hat-trick by Joe and he doesn’t complicate the game, which he is very good at,” he reflected. 

“He keeps things very basic and very simple, and his three goals were almost identical. It was just a touch out of his feet and half a yard is all he needs, and he smashed the three of them into the net - classic finishing from a class striker. 

“That was the difference in the first half; it was probably the difference over the course of the game. 

“The hat-trick was probably enough to put the game to bed but you’ve got to give Islandmagee credit because they frustrated us and got behind the ball, they there well organised and hard-working. 

“If it wasn’t for the three moments of brilliance from Joe, it would have been a frustrating half for us. But fair play to the boys, they were very professional in what they did right throughout the game. It looked comfortable in the end, but they definitely had to work up until the hour mark.”

McLaughlin made five changes for the last 32-encounter with Conor McDermott, Colin Coates, Jamie Harney, Aaron Donnelly and Daniel Kearns all coming into the starting 11. 

Cliftonville tried to make the early breakthrough with Joe Gormley shaping to shoot and seeing his shot deflected into the path of Paul O’Neill, his effort was kept out by Islandmagee goalkeeper Andrew Benson who clawed away the follow-up by Daniel Kearns. 

Gormley flicked over a McDonagh delivery and had a shot smothered by Benson after another McDonagh intervention. 

The pressure continued with Aaron Donnelly sending a driven shot high over the bar after 20 minutes but approaching the midway point in the half, the Amateur League outfit were very much holding their own. 

Eventually, Cliftonville made the breakthrough on 23 minutes and it came through Joe Gormley. The Reds’ marksman let fly with an effort from 25-yards that flew past Benson and into the roof of the net. 

Luke Turner and Matthew Hill contest possession

Luke Turner and Matthew Hill contest possession

A second almost followed, but Paul O’Neill glanced over from McDonagh’s corner. Gormley then saw his low shot parried by the foot of Benson and the Islandmagee goalkeeper quickly reacted to make a tremendous save from Daniel Kearns shot, which looked destined for the top corner. 

Five minutes before the break, Gormley fired home his second after picking up the ball on the edge of the box and aiming low into the corner of the net. 

He secured his hat-trick and the match ball a minute before the interval, swivelling at the edge of the box he arrowed a shot past Benson to make it 3-0 at the interval. 

Cliftonville extended their lead two minutes after the restart as Gormley saw his shot parried by Benson, but Luke Turner slammed home at the second time of asking to claim his first goal of the season. 

Jamie McDonagh curled a free-kick over the bar and youngster Michael Morgan almost capped his second first team appearance with a goal, but Andrew Benson denied him at the expense of a corner. 

Five minutes from time, the fifth and final goal of the afternoon arrived for the Reds when Aaron Donnelly stepped up to curl a free-kick into the corner of the net to cap a straightforward afternoon for the North Belfast side. 

CLIFTONVILLE: McNicholas, McDermott (Foster 60), Coates, Harney, Turner (Casey 56), Doherty (Moore 56), Donnelly, McDonagh (Gallagher 70), Kearns, O’Neill, Gormley (Morgan 56). 

ISLANDMAGEE: Benson, Monteith, Hunter (Knox 80), Anderson, McCreery, Baird, Workman, Monaghan (Williams 80), Hill (McMurty 62), Thompson (Hawthorne 61), Thomas (Paisley 46). 

REFEREE: Shane McGonigle